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on the scheme of marrying Mademoiselle Voss ? Have
they cast their eyes on this fortunate mortal, who resem-
bles a baboon ? Do they intend insensibly to make his
fortune ? A captain in the Gendarmes said to me yester-
day, (< Since royal munificence is so amply showered on
Doernberg, I for my part expect an annual gratification
of fifty thousand crowns. M This must be either an affair
of mysticism, pimping, or marriage. But, if the last,
why make so ridiculous a choice ? What courtier is there


who would refuse Mademoiselle Voss, with plenty of
money ? I did them too much honor in supposing such
were to be found in this Vandalian Court. Not in
places where men are accustomed to walk double will
any be found who shall stand erect when such temp-
tations are thrown in their way. Besides, what cannot
money effect in a nation so poor ! I not long since saw
Brederic, late lackey to Prince Henry, become a kind of
favorite, because of his art as a CHAMBER COUNSELOR,
and ostentatiously display the cross and ribbon of a
canonry of Magdeburg (Prince Henry is provost of this
chapter). Seven thousand crowns, lent by the Prince,
have purchased the stall; and the Prince's well-beloved
groom bears the sacred insignia, in a country where
there is so much delicacy pretended on the article of

Apropos of his patron. For a week past I have not
heard this musical Prince mentioned, the height and
depth of whose thermometer are the greatest that ever
fell under my observation. The Count of Brandenburg
requested permission of him to be present at the banquet
he gave to that part of the regiment of Braun who
fought under him at Prague. The Prince granted the
child permission; and, after highly caressing him, said,
<c It is difficult, my little friend, to converse with you
here, but ask your father leave to come to my palace,
and I shall be very glad to see you." Thus artful are
.his politics. He must employ a quantity of such strata-
gems to reimburse himself for his grand dinners. One
of his table-confidants and admirers said to me the other
day, (< Is it not very singular that the Prince is so little
esteemed, after all he has done for the army ? >} and
he meant by this to criminate the army! It appeared
to me a notable speech.

The anecdote respecting the Academy is still more
curious than according to the manner in which I related
it in my last. The Academician Schutz has written a
very violent letter to the King, against Count Hertzberg,
and concerning the arbitrary manner in which he governs
the Academy. The King sent the letter to Hertzberg, a
marked token of disapprobation in this country. Busching,


the geographer, on the same day, refused a seat in the
Academy, unless a pension should be granted him of a
thousand crowns. The only answer given to the com-
plaints of Schutz was the nomination of Erman, by
Hertzberg, without consulting any person; and the King
signed his YES, without objecting to this nomination.
Schutz wrote another letter, still more violent; what the
consequences were I do not know.

The disgrace of Launay is not so mild as it appears.
It is openly avowed that Government only waits till he
has furnished Silesia with coffee, and that then he is to
be displaced. He very rashly undertook this contract,
which he has bargained with traders to fulfill, who are
emboldened by his downfall to disown or break their en-
gagements at the moment when, all the navigable canals
being frozen, there are such few means of repairing so
great a deficiency. But the truth is the commission is
suspended, because that they are secretly sending, through
different parts of the kingdom, in search of proofs; a
truly cruel and tyrannical inquisition, which shows that
they are rather desirous of the guilt of Launay than of
the public benefit.

A man named Dubosc, formerly an eminent merchant
at Leipsic, where, if I do not mistake, he failed, and
well known for his visionary adherence to mysticism,
has been sent for, and is at present employed, as is
supposed, to give in a plan of commercial regulations
as a substitute for exclusive privileges. It should seem
they meditate a sally against the Splittgerbers,* and that
means are seeking to deprive them of the monopoly of
sugar; a very just and salutary, but a very difficult and
delicate act.

An article of intelligence still more important is that
Baron Knyphausen has had a secret conversation with
the King; but, though it comes from a good quarter, I
will not warrant it to be true. Not that this would much
astonish me. I know past doubt that the King, enraged
at being obliged to send Count Goertz to Holland, at
the very moment when the House of Orange itself com-

* Splittgerber is a sugar baker at Berlin, who has for many years
enjoyed a monopoly of that commodity.


plains of this Ambassador, wished after venting a tor-
rent of passion and abuse, to recall both Goertz and
Thulemeyer ; but that he was stopped short, because of
the impossibility of finding a MAN in a country where
there are none; and particularly none fit for Ambassa-
dors, a part of administration that was highly neglected
by the late King. His successor, perhaps, will be taught
that fools are not good for any one purpose.

POSTSCRIPT. Nothing new since I wrote this long let-
ter. Various particulars assure me that the Princess
Frederica, the daughter of the King, gains great influ-
ence, and never meets with any refusal. This doubtless
appertains to the history of Voss.



November i2th, 1786.

I FLATTERED myself that M. de H would bring me
a packet from Your Grace. He informed me you had
intended to intrust him with one, and I am exceed-
ingly grateful for the intention, although I have not
profited by it ; this I attribute to unforeseen circumstances,
which, while I pray for you, have my hearty maledictions.

I hope that the Abbe de P has sent you the news

of the country, concerning which I have not neglected
occasionally to remit anecdotes tolerably characteristic of
the moment. I feel the poverty of my own harvest more
forcibly than any person; but it ought not to be for-
gotten that I am neither provided with the pecuniary
nor the ministerial means. It is impossible anything
should escape the man of France* if he be adroit, active,
liberal, and has the art to invite proper guests to his
DAILY dinners and suppers; for these are the efficacious
means, and not PUBLIC dinners. He is, besides, a kind
of register office, to which all the discontented, the
babblers, and the covetous resort. Besides that, his
intercourse with subalterns is natural to him and per-
mitted; I, on the contrary, have need of great art and
circumspection, in order to speak without offense or in-
trusion on public affairs. I rarely can address my
discourse to persons in power. My very aspect terrifies
them too much. The King never deigns to look at me
but their countenances lengthen and grow pale. I have
acted however, to the best of my abilities, and, as
I believe, done all I could with means that are very
mutilated, very ungracious, and very sterile; nor can I
tell whether the person on whom the King bestows a

* The author undoubtedly means the Ambassador.


salary of sixty thousand livres, and a post of honor
here, sends much more information than I do. But I
well know that I, under the same circumstances, would
have penetrated many clouds through which, stationed
as I am, I have very dark views; and that I would not
discredit my nation, as he is accused of doing, by his
haughty behavior, his bittersweet aspect and idleness
that greatly resembles ignorance.

M. de H- will more fully relate, as I suppose, the
particulars I have sent. He will tell you our cause is a
lost one here, unless a change should take place among
the Judges; that the way to re-establish our affairs is
not to be over hasty; since this would but prolong re-
sistance among men naturally phlegmatic, and whose
phlegm we may safely conclude will not suffer them to
continue long impassioned; that he himself was too
hasty to come to a country which at the beginning of
the present reign, when each is looking for advance-
ment, is too restless and jealous to suppose that a gen-
eral officer and an inspector in the service of France
could really wish to be in the service of Prussia; that the
chaos (for so affairs at present may well be called) must
be suffered to subside, and from the nature of things
acquire consistency (if on the contrary it should not suf-
fer destruction), though it be but the consistency of
apathy, before attempts should be made to interfere;
that no person is at present firmly placed ; that the grand
question (< Will the King, or will he not, have the cour-
age to take a first Minister ? w - is far from being re-
solved, even by the calculation of probabilities; that on
this determination, however, the fate of the country de-
pends, and even the ultimate capacity of the King, whose
inability will be of little import if this remedy should
be found to be a substitute for his indecision; that the
symptoms are vexatious, and indeed disagreeable, but
that we must not pronounce too hastily, because our in-
formation is the reverse of complete.

It appears to me indubitable that Prince Henry is
ruined past resource; and I fear (in his behalf) that, on
this occasion as on many others, chance has arranged
affairs better than our precaution. But, whether or no,


his cunning-, his boasting 1 , his inconsistency, the intemper-
ance of his tongue, and the vileness of his creatures,
seconded by the most universal discredit, have added to
personal antipathy, and the general and habitual fear of
appearing to be governed.

The destiny of the Duke of Brunswick is far otherwise
uncertain; nor do I believe it will be decided before
there is an open rupture. But it is peculiar to him, and
to him alone, that, should he once grasp power, it will
not afterward escape him; for a better courtier, a man
of deeper views, more subtle, and at the same time
more firm and more pertinacious, does not exist.

You may well imagine, Monseigneur, that, if I suppose
facts are too partial, and hitherto not sufficiently numer-
ous to be reduced to system, on which conjectures may
be formed respecting- the King and politics, I am still
much farther from thinking- I can, with any appearance
of probability satisfactory for a wise man, divine what
will be the grand foreign connections, and political in-
fluence of Prussia, under the present reign. I have
sketched my ideas on the subject in a memorial, which is
a work of labor; but which (except the proofs the country
affords, and which here, as I imagine, will be found united
and compared more accurately than anywhere else) is
only a succession of conjectures. It contains many things
which may, and perhaps not one of which will, happen.
I am fortunate if, in this calculation of the arithmetic of
chances, I have so far succeeded as to describe things as
they are, and as they may be. From this memorial,
accompanied by three or four others, on parts of Ger-
many which lucky chance has given me opportunities of
perfectly knowing, a plan may be formed according to
which the Germanic edifice may be reconstructed, a work
that ought to be begun, if its ruin is not desired. And
here, I confess, the indecision of man, the complication of
incidents, and the obscurity of future contingencies arrest
me at each step; and I have no other guide than what is
offered by your grand and noble project of coalition, be-
tween France and England, the end of which is to give
happiness to the world, and not afford amusement to
orators and newswriters.


M. de H has informed me that Your Grace intends

coming hither in the spring. This certainly would be
the only means of rendering my stay here supportable.
But I hope you will not so long be left in inactivity so
unworthy of your talents. As to myself, after having
paid a tribute for six months, during which I have the
satisfaction conviction gives of having employed uncom-
mon assiduity and research, in compensation for the want
of natural talents, I think I have a right to shake off an
equivocal and doubtful existence, every way embarrass-
ing, requiring dexterity and fortitude seldom found to
preserve personal respect, and in which I consume my
time and my strength in a species of labor that has no
charms for me, or in the languor of etiquette and com-
pany still worse than this labor. Of this I have informed
the Abbe" de P in express terms.


November 24th, 1786.

THE most distressing incident possible has just hap-
pened to me. It is a very extraordinary story.

Madame de F the famous Tribade* coming from

the waters of Schwalback, has dropped here as if from
the clouds, under a borrowed name, with an immense
train, and not a single letter of recommendation except to
bankers. Can you imagine what project this profoundly
audacious and indeed capable woman has entertained ?
The conquest of the King! And as, in punishment for
my sins, I have known her long and well, the damnable
siren has addressed herself to me, to lay down a chart
of the country for her; and, in return, receive, as a de-
posit, that high confidence which I should most willingly
have bequeathed to Beelzebub. However, as she is a
demon of seduction, as she does not ask for money, at
least not at present, and as her qualities of body and
mind in many respects correspond with those of the
Monarch, if this be not an opportunity to be sought
after neither is it one to reject. 'Besides, as the design
is begun, and as it will be better to undertake the direc-
tion than be exposed to ridiculous broils, I am at pres-
ent in search of means to afford her a decent pretense
of remaining here a fortnight; taking care to draw my
stake, or rather taking care not to put it down.

If the Comte d'Esterno were not in every respect one
and the same, the affair might presently be managed.
She might be going to Petersburg, through Warsaw,
waiting here till she could travel in a sledge, which from
the setting in of the frost cannot be long delayed ; might
give a few select suppers; excite curiosity, etc., etc.
But this mode is not to be depended on; it is too subtle
for his understanding.

*A woman-lover.


Were not Prince Henry indiscretion itself, nothing
could be more easy than by his aid to introduce her to
the Court. She might have brought him letters. But
in an hour's time the aide-de-camp, Tauensien, would be
informed of everything; as would his aunt, Madame Knib-
beck, in five minutes afterward; and her I suspect to
be the go-between of Mademoiselle Voss. We must de-
pend on our resources. I shall take care not to entan-
gle myself; though, indeed, her very first step has
entangled me. It is a kind of fatality; and how might
I escape ?

I have made many reflections on this odd adventure.
Our plan must be not to abandon our purpose, and not
to be too scrupulous concerning the means. The few we
have are, in truth, impracticable.

If she remain in her present situation, there will be
no means of seeing the King. The mystics, the Voss party,
and the anti-French in general, will all be her enemies.
If she conceal her intentions, she will be opposed by the
party of the Rietz, and the subalterns. Either I must
often visit her, which will render her suspected; or I
must not, and she will conduct herself improperly.

If this partake of the adventurer, I voluntarily engross
the blame.

Nothing can be done in haste, with a German prince.
Should her stay be long, that stay will of itself divulge
the secret.

It is not possible but that, in a week, her true name
must be -known. The reputation she has acquired will then
spoil everything, in a country where seductive qualities
will not excuse vice, and where a trip is not the less a
trip because made by a woman.

The follies most inexcusable are those which expose
to ridicule without compensation, of the number of
which this is one. D'Esterno will relate his trifling tales;
Boden his trifling scandal; Tauensien propagate his
trifling intrigues ; before appearance, it will be necessary
to let the crowd go by, who will come and endeavor -
I will, therefore, send her to Warsaw, and procure her
letters. She may return with other letters, if you do
not inform me by what means she may be prevented,


should such be your wish; for, though I can delay, how
may I forbid her return? Such I have thought the
least hazardous proceeding in this fantastic farce, which
I, with good reason, think of greater importance than
you may be tempted to do, because at Paris Madame de

F is, like many others, little more than a courtesan;

while here, the niece of an Ambassador and the widow

of a P G , etc , will never be supposed not to

have been sent by Government, or, at least, not to have
come hither under its protection. She, therefore, must
not be suffered to commit any great folly.

The King has lately terminated a suit which had been
in contest for three-and-twenty years. The Duke of
Mecklenburg-Schwerin formerly borrowed a hundred
thousand crowns of Frederick II., and gave some bail-
liages (or districts) as a security. Hither Frederick im-
mediately sent a regiment of hussars into quarters. The
regiment, as you may well suppose, raised recruits.
The people of Mecklenburg were shocked by this act of
despotism, and offered to repay the late King; who,
during twenty-three years, always found pretenses to
avoid receiving the money. His successor has withdrawn
the troops. It is true he loses an opportunity of enlist-
ing some of the country people, but he will annually
save thirty thousand crowns; and there is likewise a
new member gained for the Germanic confederation, and
what that might be valued at, this is worth.

On Sunday (the i2th), at the principal inn in Berlin,
the marriage of the Countess Matuska and a Prussian
officer named Stutheren, was celebrated. The Countess
is a sister of Mademoiselle Hencke (Madame Rietz).
She thought to have married a Polish gentleman, who
some months since withdrew. Once deceived, she next
made choice of a young officer. The King has given
money, and money enough. It is supposed that Made-
moiselle Hencke, who now is said not to be married to
Rietz, will retire and live with her sister, that she may
not impede the projects formed to enjoy the maid of
honor in peace.

There are whisperings of a very remarkable and very
secret supper, at which the shade of Caesar was taken.


The number of mystics increases. They affirm that the
credit of Bishopswerder declines. I do not believe a
word of it.

No new act of finance. Depositions against poor Lau-
nay are poured in, and in all probability his fortune
must purchase his freedom.

Nothing new, or at least nothing certain, from Holland,
except that Count Goertz has found the way to displease
the States, the House of Orange, and the principal per-
sons who are enumerated among the French faction. I
well know what a philosopher would deduce from this:
the politician will perceive there are commissions, the
discharge of which he never ought to undertake.


November i8th, 1786.

IT is every day more apparent that the King does not
forget those who were attached to him before his
accession to the throne; and this propensity, which
is successively developed, proves him, at least, an honest
man. Count Alexander Wartensleben, an officer in the
guards, whom I have several times mentioned, had been
educated with him. Hence that intimacy which will not
admit of secrets. The late King sent for Wartensleben,
and said to him, <( I am pleased to see you so very
intimate with my nephew ; continue your friendship. But
it is also necessary you should serve the State. I ought
to be informed of the proceedings of my successor.
Mcin licbes Kind, * you will come and let me know what
passes at your parties of pleasure. I shall not forbid
them. I shall only warn you when there is any danger;
and of this you yourself will inform the Prince of Prussia.
Depend upon me, mein Schatz. w f Wartensleben, who knew
the old fox, replied (< that he was the friend of the Prince,
the friend of his heart, and that he would never become
his spy. w The King then assumed his furious counte-
nance. <( HERR LIEUTENANT, since you will not serve me,
I will at least take care that you shall obey. w On the
morrow he was sent to Spandau, where he was impris-
oned three months, and after that ordered to a garrison
regiment in the very farther part of Prussia. J On the
new King's accession he was recalled. After a momen-
tary displeasure, which Wartensleben 's refusal to go to
Sweden occasioned, and which perhaps was the contriv-

* My good child.

f This corresponds very well with the Irish phrase, MY JEWEL or MY


\ This was a mode of punishment with the late King, and a very dis-
agreeable one to the sufferers; for, besides confinement, little pay, and
no hopes of preferment, it was a public mark of contempt.



ance of the other favorites, the King has bestowed a
prebendary on him, the income of which is valued at
twelve thousand crowns; and, according to all ap-
pearance, intends to give him the command of the

The following is a second example of a like kind.
When the suit was carried on against the Minister Goern,
who was superintendent of the College of Commerce,
among his papers was a bill on the Heir Apparent for
thirty thousand crowns. The money must be procured
within twenty-four hours. Arnim went in search of the
Prince, and offered him the sum, which was most joy-
fully accepted. This probably is the origin of the favor
which the new Minister enjoys ; I cannot conjecture any
other, except what may be deduced from the King's easi-
ness of character, his indecision and mediocrity of mind ;
which, however, is just and clear, as I have said in my
former dispatches.

The King has done a third humane and generous act.
His first wife, the Princess Elizabeth of Brunswick,* has
received an increase of allowance, consisting of the rev-
enues of the bailliage of Ziganitz, which amount to twelve
thousand crowns, with liberty to retire whenever she
pleases. Certain of not being received by her family,
she will remain at Stettin. But the news has transported
her with joy. She has publicly declared that the lady
of General Schwerin, her gonvernante, has no more right
to give her any orders; and, for the first time these
eighteen years, she took an airing on horseback with
Mademoiselle Plates, that she might immediately enjoy
that liberty to which she was restored.

A trait which we ought to add, in proof of the King's
morals, is his having given up the letters to Prince
Henry, which passed in his correspondence with Fred-
erick. Their number amounts to five hundred and
eighty-seven, on State affairs, from the year 1759 to the
year 1786. It had been unseasonably reported that the
Prince was privately of his brother's opinion concern-
ing their nephew. These letters, however, have proved

* Divorced, banished the Court, and confined at Stettin, for her


that he did not wish it should be known. He even ren-
dered him services; and, for example, when Count War-
tensleben of whom I have just spoken, was imprisoned,
he sent him a grant of a pension of a hundred a year,
which he still enjoys.

The famous chamber hussar, Schoening, the confiden-
tial man of the deceased King, has lately been appointed
assistant to the cashier of the military chest, with a sal-
ary of three thousand crowns. This certainly is not a
rancorous act. Schoening, indeed, is not a man with-
out intelligence; and he is the depositary of numerous
secrets, which ought not at present to be made public,
perhaps never.

In opposition to all these good actions, we must place
the apathy of the King, on the subject of his personal
debts. He is in no haste to pay those that are not of the
household, and there is a very considerable sum apper-
taining to the latter which remains unsettled.

It is determined that the King is to discharge all the
persons employed as taxgatherers on the French finance
system, which in itself is a laudable act; for were there
a necessity for some years to prolong the farming of the

Online LibraryHo comte de MirabeauSecret memoirs of the court of Berlin → online text (page 18 of 31)